Rhetoric and Professional Communication Program




Welcome to the Rhetoric and Professional Communication program at Iowa State University.  Our program offers two graduate degrees:

Our PhD program was founded in 1991 as one of the first PhD programs in the United States to feature the role of rhetoric in professional communication. Both programs provide a foundation in rhetoric to undergird the study of composition and professional communication.

In either program, you’ll experience engaged faculty, collaborative research opportunities, diverse coursework, guided teaching opportunities, and helpful workshops.


Reasons to Apply

Here are four reasons (among others!) that you should consider applying to our master’s or doctoral program:

  • Contemporary coursework: Our programs offer coursework ranging from rhetorical theory to user experience, from qualitative research methods to web design. The programs intertwine rhetoric, composition, and professional communication to prepare students for an array of specializations.
  • Engaged faculty: Our faculty interact closely with graduate students in the classroom and on thesis and dissertation committees. Faculty members have won national awards for outstanding research. Our RPC faculty even founded and continue to edit one of the major academic journals in the field: Journal of Business and Technical Communication.
  • Career opportunities: You can shape your studies into a career that’s right for you. Our master’s students have gone on to careers as communications specialists, technical writers and editors, web designers, and technical communication instructors at community colleges. Our doctoral students have become faculty themselves at myriad universities. Indeed, among our alumni who have looked for an academic position, there is a 100% placement rate.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration: The English Department at Iowa State is large, with programs in Creative Writing and Environment, Literature, English Education, Teaching English as a Second Language, Applied Linguistics and Technology, Communication Studies, and Speech Communication. Students in the master’s and doctoral programs have the opportunity to study and work with faculty in a wide range of specialties.


Information for Applicants

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree prior to their first semester in either program and must meet stated application preferences and English proficiency requirements (for nonnative speakers of English only). See our How to Apply page for more information.


Financial Aid

Iowa State and the English Department offer a variety of financial aid for graduate students. The majority of our students are funded through graduate assistantships, which provide a full tuition waiver (PhD) or half tuition waiver (MA), a monthly stipend for teaching courses or for conducting research, and health insurance benefits. Applications for assistantships are part of the process for applying for admission.